I was not sexually abused by a priest, but I know and have counseled many people who were. I was not sexually abused by a priest, but I worked in the Church when the insidious legacy of priests sexually abusing children and having inappropriate relations with other vulnerable populations began to come to light. I was also still working in the Church when the sexual abuse scandal exploded and other “sins of the institution” came to be known.
So, when I watched the recent Academy Award winning movie, Spotlight, which tells the story of the Boston Globe’s investigation into clergy sexual abuse, uncovering and then exposing the unconscionable cover up of hundreds of priests (249 in the Boston Diocese alone!) who had been sexually abusing children and the thousands of victims, I was already long-acquainted with the story, but was so deeply moved and startled by the true extent of the crime, I could hardly speak for days. What I didn’t know, was that a dear friend, professionally a Lay Ecclesial Minister, was also watching the movie at the very same time, reliving her own experience of clergy sexual abuse and reflecting on her on-going path of healing. Here is her response:
I watched the movie Spotlight five times. I cried every time. I cried because the reporters knocked on doors, they came in search of listening and learning. They came to give a voice to the voiceless. They opened doors of truth. In the middle of watching Spotlight for the fourth time, I wrote to thank them, the real reporters. I got a personal reply in six minutes. Six minutes!!!
I wish it were like this in the church. I wish the church had come knocking on doors in search of us, our story, listening with the intent of learning our needs, and inviting our voices. Greater dignity was lost in this lack.
And I wish all the walls of defense were not so high and the finger of blame would lower. I wish humility, responsibility, and a desire for mending and reconciling would replace what we have now.
I wish we could bring the sacred to conversations, uplift the holy in each other.
I wish the church could talk about the beautiful, sacredness of our sexuality, our life essence, and our lifeblood that is good, and is within every human. And I wish we could talk about how our desire for God, for wholeness is found through relationships with each other. I wish we could talk about how this same sensual spirit is creative and life giving. Without healthy dialogue of our human sexuality there will be no understanding of how sexual violence in holy places, by people wearing crosses, can affect one’s communion with God and with each other. Reconciling divisions will come when we can address this in a spiritual, caring way.
There is a better way.
Read Kathy’s original post HERE.
Kathy’s artwork and poetry are currently on display as part of the “Co-Workers in the Vineyard” exhibition at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN. Learn more HERE.
Kathy’s work will be displayed locally at The Norbertine Center for Spirituality in DePere September 1 – 30, 2016. Watch the Norbertine Center’s website for details HERE.